By Amulya Ganguli
The woes are piling up for the BJP. Meenakshi Lekhi, the party’s MP, listed them in the right order; although her purpose was to mock the Opposition for raising the issues, rather than to draw the government’s attention to them for taking corrective steps.
According to her, the Opposition’s cries were, “first, about minority-minority, then Dalit-Dalit and finally, women-women”. The BJP ignored the first issue as was evident when Narendra Modi bade a particularly ungracious farewell to Hamid Ansari for having spoken out about the insecurity of the Muslims in his last interview as the vice-president.
He might have been dismissive about Ansari’s comments – telling him that he will be more at liberty to air them after relinquishing office – but both the prime minister and his party cannot but be more concerned about the discontent among the Dalits as their homages to the Dalit icon, B R Ambedkar, at every available opportunity, show.
However, even as the outcome about their tributes to Ambedkar on the Dalit mindset is not known, Modi and the BJP will be deeply worried about the increasing number of cases of the rape of minor girls. One of the most horrific of them was the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, especially because policemen were involved in the dreadful crime.
The BJP will be particularly worried about the tragedy because the party has become involved in the ghastly offence with two Jammu and Kashmir legislators belonging to the party being accused of siding with the criminals during a rally called by the Hindu Ekta Manch.
The two have now resigned with the BJP claiming that they were “misled” into attending the meeting. But the damage to the party’s reputation has been done, not least because the horrendous nature of the brutalities inflicted on the hapless girl has aroused; perhaps even more public outrage than at the time of the rape of a 23-year-old woman in a bus in Delhi in December, 2012, because of the Kathua victim’s tender age.
Moreover, the incident has taken a curious turn in view of the objections raised by a section of Jammu lawyers against filing a charge sheet against the accused on the grounds that the case be given to the CBI. There have also been threats against the lawyer in Jammu who has taken up the victim’s case.
Since the latter was a Muslim and the assailants are Hindus, the outrage is being seen in communal terms partly because of what the ever-active Hindutva trolls are saying on the internet with one of them virtually hailing the girl’s death, for otherwise, she might have become an Islamic “bomb”.
The similarity is obvious between such a remark and what the saffron netizens have been saying in favour of the annulment of a Hindu girl’s marriage to a Muslim in Kerala lest she is brainwashed into becoming a jehadi.
If the Kathua tragedy has shown how unsafe the country has become for women when even policemen turn into predators, the rape of a 17-year-old in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh has highlighted the unholy nexus between the police and the bureaucracy on one hand and politicians on the other since a BJP MLA has been arrested in connection with the crime.
However, the police were reluctant at first to arrest the “mananiya vidhayakji” (honorable legislator), as an official called him during a press briefing, and it was only after the Allahabad high court intervened that vidhayakji was finally arrested, but by the CBI and not the UP police.
As the high court has noted, a “disturbing feature of the case is that the law and order machinery and government officials were directly in league (with) and under the influence” of the accused.
According to a group of former bureaucrats, who have written an open letter to the prime minister, the incident has underlined the presence of the “worst kind of patriarchal, feudal mafia dons” whose political power enables them to “rape and murder and extort”.
What was heart-rending about the crime was not only the rape but also the fact that the victim’s father was “beaten up by the brother” of vidhayakji and the latter’s “goons”, as the Allahabad high court has said, and also “beaten mercilessly” while in police custody as a result of which he died.
Nothing can be a more telling commentary on the “terrifying state of affairs” prevailing in the country, as the ex-bureaucrats have said, adding that “this is a moment of existential crisis”.
For the BJP, apart from the alienation of the Muslims, about which it doesn’t care, and of the Dalits, which worries it a lot, what must be of considerable concern is whether the rape horrors will turn the middle classes away from the party.
As it is, this group is displeased about the continuing joblessness. Now it will be perturbed about the safety of little girls in their families. (IPA Service)
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